Global warming: A Threat Of Technologies

The average mobile phone generates approximately 55 kilograms of carbon emissions from manufacturing, which is equal to 26 weeks of laundry.

Global warming: A Threat Of Technologies

Pakistan, despite being a developing country, has a growing mobile phone industry, with approximately 90 million subscribers around the country, which currently accounts for approximately 47% of the population. Pakistan is the 7th largest market for mobile phones, with annual sales of 34 million, according to research that was conducted in 2019.

According to figures from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), there were 152 million mobile “phone subscribers” in Pakistan in March 2019, but in May 2019, it is expected to shoot up to 162 million.

When we think about climate change, our main concern is the carbon that is being released from industries like petroleum and the mining industry. Rarely is attention paid to the mobile phone industry or computer technologies.

The average mobile phone generates approximately 55 kilograms of carbon emissions from manufacturing, which is equal to 26 weeks of laundry. The estimated carbon footprint of mobile phones generates 47kg of/ carbon dioxide per year after using a phone for just two minutes per day.

1250 kg/CO2e: typical usage at 1 hour/day 125 million tons/CO2e: global usage per year (The Guardian, 2010). The total carbon footprint is expected to rise from about 1% in 2007 to 3.5% by 2020, reaching 14% by 2040 (anthropocene, 2018). One must think about carbon footprints.

Carbon footprints are the total greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, released (GHGs include methane, carbon dioxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbon, water vapour, and nitrous oxide) by different human activities, events, organisations, services, or products.

The carbon footprint’s measurement is not restricted to the release of carbon dioxide alone but also to other greenhouse gases. No one can measure the exact carbon footprint of an individual.

So, it is suggested for measuring carbon emissions roughly based on the size of household items, the things that you recycle, and other activities that you perform throughout the day. Although this isn’t the perfect method, it just gives you a vague idea of how much carbon is being emitted on a daily basis. Online calculators are available for this.

Since mobile phones are becoming such an indispensable tool that we can’t actually deny their usage, the question arises: how can we reduce our carbon footprint? The most suitable, cheapest, and easiest way to reduce the carbon footprint of a developing country like Pakistan is to plant trees.

Trees act as sinks for carbon dioxide, which means they absorb carbon dioxide and the temperature does not increase much.

But unfortunately, Pakistan’s deforestation rate, which is -2.1%, is higher than the afforestation rate, which is 2.2%, which is not enough, though initiatives have been taken by the government of Pakistan to plant more and more trees to make Pakistan green and clean. Another thing that we should do is use public transportation more often rather than travelling in private cars.

According to the research that was conducted by the Pakistan Meteorological Department, “over the last 100 years, especially the last 30 years, climate indicators clearly show warming trends.”

Taking action on climate change due to smartphones should be one of the top priorities of Pakistan, but due to the fact that the exact climatic effect of smartphones is still not known because no one has ever paid attention to this until now.

According to a report from the European Environmental Bureau, about 72% of greenhouse gases are released from the phone when no one is using it, which is a really huge amount and can greatly affect the environment, causing the temperature to rise at an exponential rate. Mobile phone industry play a major role in warming up the temperature since everyone is using this electronic device.

Greenhouse gases are said to increase up to 14% by the year 2040 since their usage is increasing day by day and has a greater carbon footprint than any other sector in the information and communication technology (ICT) or other transportation industries.

The percentages that are mentioned above about carbon emissions are when phones are being used by a person or charged. But have you ever thought about how much energy is being released during the manufacturing of mobile phones?

This is actually the question of the hour. Ever since the demand for phones has increased, Pakistan has also started manufacturing phones; around 12 million handsets are being produced annually (Arab News, 2020).

Local production will be doubled when the number of investors increases. While manufacturing smartphones, it costs about 85% to 95% of its annual carbon footprint, which means 17 to 125 megatons of carbon dioxide between 2010 and 2020 (anthropocene, 2018).

This value is for a single handset. Now you can imagine how tremendously the carbon footprint is increasing, heating up the environment, and changing the climatic conditions. The amount of carbon emissions trapped in the atmosphere ultimately leads to global warming.

The higher the carbon footprint, the more global warming occurs, which ultimately leads to changes in the overall climatic conditions of the environment and eventually raises the temperature that causes rapid melting of ice and glaciers that may lead to floods and a tremendous rise in sea level that can affect agricultural soil, aquatic fauna, and flora.

And materials like metals that we use to manufacture the phone also affect the environment, as metals are not easily degradable and stay in the environment for a longer period of time, continuously affecting our environment.

Other effects include air pollution resulting in smog, which is a really hot topic these days, and other respiratory issues in humans. Ultimately, everything around us will be at huge risk.

Other than the carbon footprint of mobile phones, there are other radiations that affect plants and animals. A study conducted in India’s Punjab region showed that mobile phone radiation affects the germination process and has other detrimental effects on the plant. At last, I would say try to go for a more eco-friendly process and try to recycle things more often; sadly, statistics show that only 1% of phones are being recycled.

This article is jointly authored by Rao Muhammad Sajjad Sharif, Shahid Majeed and Kaynaat Akbar.